Senior Israeli politicians discussed the nuclear threats from Iran yesterday at the 17th annual conference of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.
Transport and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz called for the US to change or terminate the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, saying that the “Prime Minister must demand that President Trump suspend, change or cancel the nuclear agreement. The lesson from the case of North Korea is that dialogue and compromise, in place of forceful action with dictatorships that aspire to and take action to obtain nuclear capability, ultimately lead to their crossing the threshold and to changing the rules of the game.”
Katz criticised the JCPOA as “in its current format, the agreement basically protects Iran at this time, and is leading, with certainty, to a nuclear Iran down the line”.
Katz also warned about an increasing Iranian presence in Syria, warning that this could lead to an Iranian seaport, air field and army bases. Katz said that “a long-term agreement between Assad and Iran is evolving that will anchor Iran’s military presence in Syria, similar to the agreement signed between Assad and the Russians. The Iranians are liable to place missiles of various types in Syria, and Shi’ite militias with tens of thousands of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi and Syrian combatants are liable be deployed in Syria with the goal of threatening and fighting Israel. This means a northern front against Israel that will require our allocating resources and beefing up forces even without a single bullet or rocket having been fired.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett criticised Iran’s strategy in Syria, saying that “Iran is liable to discover that Syria is its Vietnam. Iran’s strategy for becoming entrenched in Syria could easily cause it to become bogged down there”.
He also warned that “Iran’s conventional activity must not divert our attention from the nuclear threat. A nuclear Iran is an existential danger to the State of Israel. A hit by an Iranian nuclear missile on Israel means destruction. In contrast, an Israeli attack on Iran is a bad blow, but it is not Iran’s destruction. We cannot accept such a situation and we will not accept such a situation. We didn’t bring together Jews from all corners of the earth in order to turn them into a nuclear target.”
Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman said that “Iran wants to destroy the State of Israel and terror is one of the means. It is also taking steps to manufacture unconventional weapons and is making the development of cyber capabilities a high priority”.
He also said that “the entire free world, not just Israel, has to understand that Iran is the source of the problem.”
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livin also spoke at the conference and said that: “Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue will not solve the issue of religious Islamic terrorism, but Israel should make alliances with more pragmatic allies in the shared fight against terrorism, and this involves making progress on the Palestinian issue”.